Letters: How to save Cambridge’s reputation

17 July 2021

9:00 AM

17 July 2021

9:00 AM

Save the parish

Sir: The Revd Marcus Walker eloquently describes the crisis that has taken hold in the Church of England (‘Breaking faith’, 10 July). He correctly states that the church belongs to the people of England and not to the archbishops, bishops or clergy.

As he wrote, the costs of parish clergy are not a ‘key limiting factor’. They should be the church’s first priority in terms of costs. Stipendiary parish clergy play a vital role in bringing the Christian gospel and pastoral care to their communities. Without properly trained and ordained clergy, there would be no holy communion, no absolution and remission of our sins and no church weddings. I would suggest that there would also be a dearth of volunteers and donors to pay for the bureaucracies in diocesan church houses. Parishes which have been merged into benefices under one vicar are inevitably declining, as forecast in the C of E’s own official growth report.

The hierarchy seems tone-deaf to lay people’s concerns, although it was interesting to see that the diocesan synod in Winchester has used its power to threaten a vote of no confidence against its bishop. However, parliament can legislate for the C of E, overriding the authority of the general synod and the bishops. Moreover, ministers can be asked to exercise the crown’s prerogative powers to appoint a lay-led royal commission to reform the church.

In June, six of us wrote a letter appealing for the appointment of a lay commission to reform the Church of England. It was sent to the ‘state commissioners’: state office holders appointed ex-officio as church commissioners, who have the responsibility for exercising oversight of the established church and its endowments. We hope that ministers will be moved by the letter to exercise their power. Anyone wishing to add their name to this letter should visit savetheparish.com.

Stephen Billyeald

Pangbourne, Berkshire

Alumni action

Sir: The unhealthy relationship between Cambridge and communist China, so expertly delineated by Ian Williams (‘Fellow travellers’, 10 July) raises an important question. What can concerned alumni do to exert influence on those who are besmirching the reputation of our great university? Clearly, their motivation is money. So that is what we should use against them. We must make it known that we will change our wills so that not a penny will go to those institutions — like my own alma mater, Jesus College — which continue in the business (and business is the right word) of providing academic camouflage for tyranny.

Francis Bown

London E3

Cambridge lessons

Sir: About five years ago I dined with a Chinese general at the Athenaeum, of all places. We had lamb from the trolley. As the senior officer of the People’s Liberation Army ladled sauce from the proffered boat he said: ‘I don’t know why I have to have mint with lamb, but I learned to at Cambridge.’ Whatever else they’re doing at Cambridge, they’re obviously doing something right.

Allan Mallinson

Cavalry and Guards Club, London W1

Winning streaker

Sir: I am in admiration of Poppy Royds’s streaking impulse, especially as it is a wonderfully liberating and instinctive action following a time of extended restraint. At my age (I was born before D Day) I would frighten the horses if I attempted a streak, so I’ll leave it to the ‘professionals’. I wondered why Poppy did not mention the wonderful Erica Roe, who burst forth at Twickenham to the delight of the crowd. Maybe she did not qualify as hers was only a half Monty?

Nigel Milliner

Truro, Cornwall

Freudian slip

Sir: As I’ve not yet read Olivia Laing’s latest book, I am not sure if it is she who is in error or Stuart Jeffries in misremembering what she wrote (Books, 10 July). However the suggestion that Freud ‘appeased the Nazis’ couldn’t be more inaccurate. Freud was fearless in his disdain for and refusal to be cowed by them. His books were burnt, his flat in Vienna was raided twice, and his daughter Anna was taken for interrogation by the Gestapo. Freud himself had to be chivvied to leave Austria for Britain, where the pain of his cancer finally led to his physician Max Schur (following a long-agreed pact between them) putting him to death by lethal injection. Perhaps Laing was misled by the well-documented fact that when Freud’s friends managed to get the Nazis’ agreement for him to leave and he was asked to sign a document attesting to their good treatment of him, he was narrowly prevented from writing, with characteristic irony: ‘I can recommend the Gestapo heartily to anyone.’ It was as well he was persuaded not to, as his four sisters were denied permission to leave. Three died in concentration camps.

Salley Vickers

London W11

Vote early, vote often

Sir: Your correspondent who writes about the iniquities of student votes in Canterbury (Letters, 10 July) did not mention the point that many students will also have unlawfully cast a second vote in their home address constituency. This is a banana republic loophole that needs to be closed.

Peter Forrest

London N6

A time to sing

Sir: Apropos Dot Wordsworth’s item on rugger and soccer (10 July), I remember teaching at a public school where the whole school went to chapel on Fridays to practise hymns for the forthcoming Sunday service. This period was timetabled ‘Congregational Practice’ but was universally termed Congregagger Pragger.

Peter Forbes

Marple Bridge, Greater Manchester

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